By Charnele Henry
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – Primary healthcare facilities will be built and upgraded in select rural communities through a $1.8-billion (€10.2 million) non-reimbursable grant from the European Union (EU).
The EU has committed the funds under its Caribbean Investment Facility (EU-CIF) in support of the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) health systems strengthening programme (Health Hybrid Programme) which aims to bolster the country’s capacity to effectively address the issue of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
It will augment the US$50-million Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) investment loan for the programme, which will see the upgrading and development of 13 health facilities – three hospitals and ten health centres to benefit some 800,000 Jamaicans.
The non-reimbursable support from the EU is for the work to be done on the health centres.
The programme, which has the objective of improving the management, quality and efficiency of health services, also entails the introduction and implementation of an information systems for health, including remote patient monitoring, e-prescription and electronic health record.
At a visibility ceremony for the non-reimbursable grant financing, held at the ministry of finance and the public service in Kingston on Wednesday, July 7, minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, said that the funds from the EU will help make the objectives of the health hybrid programme a reality.
“In a very innovative way, the EU grant proceeds will complement the IDB loans that we entered into in 2018,” he noted. “So, we are working with the IDB to strengthen health capacity at the hospitals and the grant provided by the EU will allow for clinics within the catchment areas to also be upgraded, thereby increasing the outcome that we have as far as NCD prevalence and management is concerned.”
The minister of finance said that the $1.8-billion grant from the EU “is of great significance”, particularly within the context of the budget, as “this is money we don’t have to pay back”.
“It is an even better deal for the use to which these funds are going to be put. Jamaica will be focused on building its human capital as much as we are on building our physical infrastructure. Human capital development is of crucial importance as NCDs rob Jamaica of productivity. If we are focused on developing the human capital of Jamaica, we have to be focused on limiting the negative impacts of NCDs, and certainly, this grant goes a long way to achieving this,” Dr Clarke pointed out.
Head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica, ambassador Marianne Van Steen, in her remarks noted that the funds will be used to rehabilitate or build ten health centres in St Catherine, St Ann and Clarendon.
“The European Union applauds the health systems programme of the government of Jamaica together with the IDB, and the EU is very proud that as a long-term partner and friend of Jamaica it can contribute to the success of this programme,” she said.
The health centres to undergo upgrading was selected by the ministry of health and wellness and include St Ann’s Bay in St Ann; Chapelton, Mocho, May Pen West in Clarendon; and St Jago and Greater Portmore in St Catherine. New clinics will also be built-in selected areas of the three parishes.
The specific objectives of the EU-CIF Financing Agreement are to improve the quality of primary care provided through health centres in the catchment areas of the hospitals selected for the IDB investment and increase patient adherence to NCD management protocols.
The grant funding will also cover the organisation and consolidation of integrated primary health services networks and a health education, communication and visibility plan regarding NCDs.